Not only are these items convenient, but they are also picked at the peak of freshness and immediately processed in order to lock in essential vitamins and minerals. Pound for pound, they can even offer more nutrients than fresh since they are processed immediately after picking rather than transported, stored, and eventually purchased by you. By the time you get some fresh veggies home, they may have lost some of their vitamin content and antioxidant ability. Frozen options can be a good bet overall, but to save on calories and sodium be sure to buy unseasoned veggies without sauces.
You thought only steel-cut oats were a good option? Nope. Even instant oats provide dietary fiber (3/4 cup of instant oatmeal supplies 3 grams) and beta-glucans, which have proven effective in lowering total blood cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels, reducing CHD risk. Added bonus? Satiating high-fiber diets have been linked to lower body weight.
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Rich in lycopene, tomatoes have proved to be a helpful ally in the war against skin cancer and promotion of prostate health. According to the American Cancer Society, "Studies that looked at lycopene levels in the blood found that levels were higher after people ate cooked tomatoes than after they ate raw tomatoes or drank tomato juice." Which means that lycopene in cooked tomato products, such as canned tomatoes, may be more readily absorbed by the body than lycopene in raw tomatoes. As with all canned goods, unless you are a salty and excessive sweater, it's best to choose a no-salt-added variety since the majority of us consume well above the recommended levels of sodium.
That's right, the humble peanut should find its way to your cart. Peanuts are naturally cholesterol-free, trans-fat free, rich in protein (one ounce contains 7 grams of protein, and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter contain 8 grams of protein), contain a myriad of vitamins and minerals, and are rich in heart-healthy unsaturated fat (and low in unhealthy saturated fat). While some sources of peanuts can be high in sodium, others, like dry roasted, unsalted peanuts are blood-pressure and heart-healthy choices that contain lots of flavor but no added sodium.
Added bonus? There's research that suggests peanuts are rich in the cardioprotective antioxidant known as resveratrol, the same component found in red wine that's thought to slow the progression of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. So the next time you're shopping, pick up some peanuts, peanut butter or a delicious, omega-3 rich blend.
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